Hai Hua, Magdalena Lemus, and Jerry Mora
Read about the writer, Ellie David.
Keeping This House a Home
If Bailey-Boushay House had a well-kept secret, it would have to be the experienced housekeeping team of Hai Hua, Magdalena Lemus and Jerry Mora. They work discreetly behind the scenes to make sure this building comforts all who live, work and visit here.
The surprised reaction of first-time visitors to Bailey-Boushay tells the tale. Newcomers invariably say, "This place doesn't smell like a nursing home. It looks and feels like a real home."
Hai, Magdalena and Jerry rightly take pride in their work. Their supervisor, Michael Schattenkerk, explains their challenge. "It's a demanding job to keep up a 20-year-old facility that operates 24 hours a day," he says. "We're never closed."
Plus, Bailey-Boushay encourages clients and residents to stay as independent as possible. So lots of spills and special requests interrupt regular cleaning tasks many times a day. The housekeeping team takes it all in stride.
The small, cohesive team has worked together for years. Hai has the longest tenure. He started in 1994. Magdalena came in 2004. That makes Jerry, who started in 2006, the new guy.
They all give the same three reasons for their long ties to Bailey-Boushay. As workers, they get good benefits. The compassionate care given to Bailey-Boushay patients makes them proud. And they all feel heard and appreciated in their workplace.
"We don't see the 'you're just housekeepers' thing here," Jerry says. "We're part of the family of Bailey-Boushay."
Though they don't provide patient care, the housekeepers know all the residents and they enter rooms as respectfully as they would a private home.
In a pinch, when a translator is delayed en route, they're game to help patients make their wishes known. In addition to English, Hai speaks Vietnamese and will take a stab at other Asian languages. Magdalena and Jerry do the same for Spanish speakers.
Sometimes, when they've made a closer connection with a long-term resident, a death hits especially hard. That's part of the job, Magdalena says, "and sometimes I go to my manager's office [to cry]."
Michael, their manager, describes Hua, Magdalena and Jerry as "a small team of people who have come to know each other and to work together well."
Their fondness for each other is evident, whether they're talking about kids (still at home or out of the nest), work styles (Magdalena describes Hai as "Mr. Fast Mop"), or their happiness for a patient who is healthy enough to go back home that day.
Hai and Magdalena nod in agreement when Jerry says, "Seeing people die is not easy, but when you do see them walk out — and these days many more do — it's pretty nice."